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Completed Lawsuits:

Bruce A. Hake, et al. v. Carroll County, Maryland, by its Board of County Commissioners, et al.


In May 2013, the American Humanist Association sued the Carroll County Board of Commissioners for its unconstitutional practice of delivering sectarian prayers at board meetings.

For a period of more than a year, the case was stayed pending a ruling on a similar case litigated by the ACLU involving sectarian prayers by the Rowan County Board of Commissioners. In June 2018, The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take the case effectively letting stand a lower court ruling that found the Rowan County commissioners' practice of delivering Christian prayers before their public meetings was unconstitutional.


On September 10, 2019, The U.S. District Court issued a final order permanently barring the Commissioners from delivering prayers at all future meetings.


Selected Case Documents:

District Court (Case No. 1:13-cv-01312):

Complaint (filed May 1, 2013)

Brief in Support of Motion for Preliminary Injunction (filed May 1, 2013)

Motion of Contempt and Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion of Contempt (filed April 1, 2014)

Motion for Summary Judgment (filed June 9, 2014)

Motion to Compel Discovery (filed July 16, 2014)

Court Order granting Motion to Compel Discovery (issued August 14, 2014)

Supplemental Memorandum in Support of Summary Judgment (filed November 12, 2014) 

Reply to Defendant’s Supplemental Memorandum in Support of Plaintiffs’ Cross-Motion for Summary Judgement and in Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgement (filed December 1, 2014) 

Letter to the Court discussing Rowan County (filed March 3, 2016)

Final Order (signed September 10, 2019)

Press Releases:

AUGUST 30, 2019

Humanists Score Victory in Longstanding MD Legislative Prayer Case

AUGUST 14, 2014

Federal Court orders Carroll County Commissioners to Comply with Records Requests

The American Humanist Association's Motion to Compel Discovery is granted.

JUNE 10, 2014

American Humanist Association Files Summary Judgment Motion Against Carroll County Commissioners

Appignani Humanist Legal Center seeks injunction against unconstitutional prayer practices.

APRIL 2, 2014

AHA Files Motion of Contempt Against Carroll County Commissioners for Sectarian Prayers

Commissioners continue to defy injunction forbidding sectarian prayers at public meetings.

MARCH 27, 2014

Update: County Official Defies Federal Court Prayer Order, American Humanist Association Issues Warning

County official opens meeting with prayer despite recent federal court order.

MARCH 26, 2014

Christian Prayers at Carroll County Meetings Must End, Rules Federal Judge

AHA argues that overt Christian references in during county meetings violates Establishment Clause.


JANUARY 14, 2014

Carroll County (MD) residents challenge commissioners’ prayers in court

Our Appignani Humanist Legal Center is representing county residents in this case.

MAY 3, 2013

County sued over opening meetings with sectarian prayers

Two residents will challenge the Carroll County Board of Commissioners in federal court.

MAY 1, 2013

American Humanist Association Sues Carroll County Commissioners over Christian Prayers at Meetings

Prayers containing Christian references were delivered on 50 plus occasions at meetings held in 2011 and 2012.


MAY 13, 2012

Maryland county commissioner creates monthly prayer session

The AHA is monitoring case of a county government planning prayer sessions for employees.

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